Getting over White Lies

Gauri Chhabra

From cheating on taxes to duping romantic partners about whereabouts to telling the police officer that we didn’t realize how fast we were going, we are all lying all over the place all the time. Now before you berate yourself and vow never to lie again, relax and take a breath.
Some lies are not damaging
Not all lies are damaging. Few days ago, I watched a documentary in which a man comforted a terrified woman on a turbulent flight and lied to her that he was an aeronautics engineer. Not quite a lie? Isn’t it?
Well, some lying may be socially useful, but the problem is- we do it too much in an undiscriminating way. We lie way too much. Most lies start out fairly innocently before falling victim to a slippery slope that ends in a consequence ditch. What’s more, we tend to rationalize our lies. The more we lie, the more our brains adapt to accommodate our deception. The first time we lie, we feel its impact in our amygdala and insula which are the parts of our brains that are connected to emotion. As we lie more, however, our brains don’t become significantly aroused. Further, if we find an acceptable justification for our lies, we can lie to ourselves without discomfort from our bodies.
Let us look at some situations where we are often forced to lie and try exploring ways to overcome compulsive lying:
About your age
This happens with folks who are approaching 50 and feel they should lie about their age as they are getting zero traction with hiring managers and recruiters.  They have a sneaking feeling that their lack of success in the job search process is about their age and not about their qualifications. Are they right? So, what’s to be done?  Should you lie about your age, or hide what you’ve been doing with your time? My answer is an unequivocal, resounding no! Never lie and never try to hide information.
Lying is to your own detriment, and once your employer comes to know of it, you lose his trust and he will not consider you for any portfolio of responsibility and would always sniff at you.
If people want you, they would hire you regardless of your age…
Lying is wrong
Let’s start with the most obvious reason not to lie: it is both morally and ethically wrong. It is also literally wrong, because lying represents something other than what is right or true. Honesty—or at least trust—is the foundation of all relationships.
Lying is straining
If you lie to get yourself a new employment situation you’ll have to maintain that lie for the rest of your time in that situation.  Keeping up pretenses and falsifications is a full-time job – it’s exhausting, demoralizinssg, draining, fear-inducing and in the end, a waste of precious energy which would be far better spent expressing and living who you really are. Living the “impostor” syndrome is a terrible strain.
When you lie, you’re doing two things at once: you must both create a falsehood and withhold reality. That takes extra brainpower, and is more demanding than simply telling the truth. The bigger the lie, the more energy it takes. Even small lies add up, and can quickly wear out your mind. When you lie, there are clear physiological signs that give it away and your energy reveals it.  Liars speak less convincingly, their eye contact becomes more indirect, their confidence wanes, and their ability to come across as believable and self-assured is negatively impacted.
We gain strength and vitality when we tell the truth and when we honor who we are and our own authentic experience…
Lying is damaging
When you lie to get something you want, you feed yourself a damaging message that you are not sufficient, not enough, not worthy, not deserving of having this desired thing unless you pretend to be someone else.  This message of “I’m not worthy of this” unless I lie, seeps into other parts of your life, including your relationships, your communications, your professional behavior and your family life.
Lying is suffocating
The very fact that you were forced to lie in the first place whether it is your resume or your job, indicates that you are trying to fit in- and be a part of an organization that does not want you or would not have you if they knew the truth. Do you want to be part of such an organization?
Don’t you want to be a part of something that wants you – the real you?  Do you want to work hard for an organization that wouldn’t take you if they found out the real story about you?  Of course not. You want to put your time, efforts, talents, and skills towards an enterprise that values who you are.  And there are plenty of them out there.
Lying is wastage
At the end of the day, all hiding and lying just won’t work and will cause endless hours of wasted time and energy.  If you leave off your graduation marks on your resume so no one will come to know your marks, recruiters figure out you’re hiding something and pass it on talking to you.  If you make up a story about what you’ve been doing with your time, and lie that you were being paid as a “consultant,” for instance, you’ll be unconvincing and awkward when you talk about your fictitious employment.  The truth comes out.
Lying is hurtful
Lying usually ends up with someone getting hurt. It may hurt others for some time, but in most of the cases the one who gets hurt the most is YOU. Dishonesty is harmful to the recipient of a lie, because it presents them with a distortion of reality. Even if they never find out it was a lie, that misconception might prevent them from pursuing the correct path or making a decision based on all the right facts. If they do find out it was a lie, they’re likely to be hurt or offended.
Besides, lying is one of the quickest ways to destroy your own reputation. If your recruiters come to know that you are lying to get the current job, you may lie to clients and to them as well. The smallest lie leads people to question everything you say.
Tell your own story
If you are wondering what to do while talking to recruiters, let me tell you- lying will never work. It will always come back around and bite you. So if you’re tempted to lie in your job search process, stop yourself. The best way to deal with challenging information is to “reframe it.”  Tell your story in the way that fits the facts, but opens the door to as much expansion, positivity and power as possible.
Be yourself.  There are plenty of opportunities that will present themselves when you step up with power and purpose and acknowledge the truth– the whole truth – about who you are.  Accepting and honoring yourself — and learning how to speak about your contributions in a compelling way — is a far more powerful and effective job search strategy than pretending to be someone else.
Therefore, do not endeavor to be someone else. It won’t work. Truth is very fulfilling.
There is no such whitening for the soul as pure, white truth… Try it.